Deer might be cute, but not cute enough that you are OK with them eating away the hard work you have done in your yards and gardens.
Scott Austin, a nursery specialist at GardenWorks Penticton, said the number one question they get from customers is whether they have plants that deer will steer clear of.
“Well, the short answer is no. There is nothing that will keep them out of your yard except maybe a really tall fence. However, there are a lot of deer resistant plants. It doesn’t mean it will keep them out, but it might save them from being eaten,” said Austin. “This is a question we get asked about on a continual basis and we know it can be frustrating. Even for myself, I have had plants that the deer don’t touch for years then one day I wake up and they are gone, the deer have browsed on them.”
He said deer tend to stay away from anything that has grey foliage and fragrant plants with strong scents like lavender and herbs.
“There are a lot of factors to determine what they will chew on, nothing is guaranteed though. Something that nine times out of 10 is deer resistant, well you might see a young deer who doesn’t know any better and is really hungry that will browse on it,” said Austin.
Austin said they do have a list of plants that deer rarely or seldom severely damage that can be picked up at their front desk. Among those choices are snapdragon, asparagus, aster, Lily of the Valley, baby’s breath, heliotrope, iris, juniper, daffodil, fern and peony.
“Aromatic foliage, grey foliage, drought tolerant plants—those are pretty much foolproof. They also don’t eat ornamental grass because they don’t like the texture. As well, there is all kinds of repellants you can apply but remember they must be re-applied every time the plant gets wet or it rains,” said Austin. “Basically fending off deer has just become a part of gardening. It can be frustrating. They are cute but not that cute when you put all that time in.”
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